All-day hunt brought Boston area to standstill; alleged accomplice dead
Bill Greene/Globe Staff
In the waning moments of daylight, police descended Friday on a shrouded boat in a Watertown backyard to capture the suspected terrorist who had eluded their enormous dragnet for a tumultuous day, ending a dark week in Boston that began with the bombing of the world’s most prestigious road race.
The arrest of 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev of Cambridge ended an unprecedented daylong siege of Greater Boston, after a frantic night of violence that left one MIT police officer dead, an MBTA Transit Police officer wounded, and an embattled public — rattled again by the touch of terrorism — huddled inside homes.
Tsarnaev’s elder brother and alleged accomplice — 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the second suspect in Monday’s Boston Marathon attack — was pronounced dead early Friday morning at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, after suffering shrapnel and bullet wounds in a gunfight with police.
“It’s a proud day to be a Boston police officer,” Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis told his force over the radio moments after the arrest. “Thank you all.”
President Obama, addressing the nation from the White House, applauded Boston for not allowing the terrorists to prevail.
“They failed because the people of Boston refused to be intimidated,” the president said.
Friday will be remembered as the day the city stood still, after Governor Deval Patrick asked the people of Boston and the nearby communities of Watertown, Waltham, Newton, Belmont, and Cambridge to “shelter in place” — stay inside, lock the door, and don’t open it for anyone except police in uniform — while the younger Tsarnaev was on the loose.
A city of some 625,000, in a metropolis of 2 million, screeched to a halt. Heavily armed officers patrolled eerily empty streets that looked like the set of an apocalyptic movie. The MBTA halted its trains, buses, and subways. Taxi service was temporarily frozen. Amtrak stopped service between Boston and Providence. Officials asked businesses across the region not to open. The Red Sox and Bruins games were postponed. And the campus of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is a student, was evacuated and closed.
The day began with bomb blasts and gunshots on a street in Watertown, where police said more than 200 rounds were fired in the battle.
While his brother was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev survived and escaped on foot. Local, state, and federal law enforcement officers — including the Secret Service, K-9 teams, explosives experts, and SWAT officers — searched door to door for the suspect throughout Friday. Police in helicopters scoured the streetscape from above. More than 1,000 officers participated in the hunt.
By 6 p.m., frustrated officials relaxed the rule and allowed residents to leave their homes. The people of Watertown began to venture outside.
But within an hour, the crack of gunshots again blasted through the neighborhood. Sirens blared, and officers on foot scrambled down Franklin Street.
Police found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev hiding on a boat stored in a backyard on Franklin Street. Police exchanged gunfire with him before capturing him alive. Spontaneous celebrations erupted across the region, from the Boston Common to the Back Bay streets near the bombing.
The boat’s owners, a couple, spent Friday hunkered down under the stay-at-home order. When it was lifted early in the evening, they ventured outside for some fresh air and the man noticed the tarp on his boat blowing in the wind, according to their his son, Robert Duffy.
The cords securing it had been cut and there was blood near the straps. Duffy’s father called police, who swarmed the yard and had the couple evacuated, Duffy said.
Residents, who had barricaded themselves in their homes for nearly 20 hours, were still deeply shaken. “I’m so happy they got these guys,” said Tom Sheridan, 35, an interior painter from Watertown, as he cheered police cruisers and ambulances as they drove by on Mount Auburn Street. “But I’m worried there are more people out there like that. It won’t be the same.”
Tsarnaev was wounded and taken to a hospital. In an interview late last night, Patrick said he is “hoping very deeply he survives those wounds, because I’ve got a lot of questions and I know investigators have a lot of questions for him.”
Investigators believe the Tsarnaev siblings, originally from the former Soviet Republic of Kyrgyzstan, who came to the United States in the early 2000s, are responsible for the attack on the Marathon on Monday that killed three people and injured more than 170, many grievously.
The FBI-led investigation of the atrocity took a sudden and shocking turn Thursday afternoon after the FBI released photos and videos of the alleged Marathon bombers and asked the public for help identifying them. The images showed two young men casually lugging backpacks along Boylston Street Monday, shortly before two bombs exploded near the finish line.
Investigators said they believe the suspects carried crude but powerful bombs made from household pressure cookers in their backpacks, which they abandoned on the sidewalk.
Upon release of the images, tips poured into the FBI. Within hours, the brothers allegedly killed again, shooting Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier in his cruiser, near Vassar and Main streets in Cambridge, at about 10:24 p.m. The 26-year-old officer later died.
Police say the siblings carjacked a motorist minutes later on Memorial Drive. They released the unidentified motorist in Cambridge about 30 minutes later, police said. He was not hurt. Later that evening — the timing is unclear — an MBTA police officer spotted the stolen car, and a cavalcade of police cruisers chased the suspects into Watertown. The brothers threw explosives at the pursuing officers, police said.
The brothers stopped near Dexter and Laurel streets, got out of the car, and traded gunfire with police for several minutes. MBTA Transit Police Officer Richard H. Donohue Jr., 33, was wounded. He was in stable condition Friday at Mount Auburn Hospital.
The elder brother was shot in the battle and collapsed.As his brother lay on the street, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev jumped into the car and took off, plowing past a line of police officers who fired furiously. As he drove, he ran over his brother’s body. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev abandoned the car nearby and fled on foot, triggering an enormous search and setting the region on edge.
Police took Tamerlan Tsarnaev to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center about 1:10 a.m. Friday. He was pronounced dead at 1:35 a.m. Dr. Richard Wolfe said the suspect had been hit by shrapnel from an explosion and that he had died from “a combination of blasts” and “multiple gunshot wounds.”
The question that remains is why the siblings would attack their adoptive nation. But a picture began to emerge Friday of Tamerlan Tsarnaev as an aggressive, possibly radicalized immigrant who may have ensnared his younger brother — described almost universally as smart and sweet — into an act of terror.
“I used to warn Dzhokhar that Tamerlan was up to no good,” Zaur Tsarnaev, who identified himself as a 26-year-old cousin, said by phone Friday from Makhachkala, Russia. “[Tamerlan] was always getting into trouble. He was never happy, never cheering, never smiling. He used to strike his girlfriend. He hurt her a few times. He was not a nice man.”
In a photo essay about boxing, Tamerlan said: “I don’t have a single American friend. I don’t understand them.”
In 2011, a foreign government asked the FBI for information about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, based on information that he was a follower of “radical Islam” who had changed drastically, the bureau said in a statement Friday. In response, the FBI investigated and interviewed Tamerlan and family members. “The FBI did not find any terrorism activity, domestic or foreign,” the bureau said.
Dzhokhar, the suspect seen in FBI photos in a white cap worn backward, was a student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. On Wednesday, two days after the Marathon attack, he spent the night at his dorm, according to a school official who declined to be named. He was an all-star wrestler and a member of the class of 2011 at Cambridge Rindge & Latin School; he won a Cambridge City Scholarship that year.
A Northeastern University sophomore who lived within blocks of Dzhokhar and graduated from Cambridge Rindge and Latin with him described the younger bombing suspect as an honor student popular with classmates who enjoyed playing pickup basketball with a large circle of friends.
Gilberto Junior, 44, owner of Junior’s Auto body in Somerville, said the younger suspect dropped off a white Mercedes station wagon two weeks ago for repairs. Junior said he had not yet touched the car when the suspect came back demanding the car, the day after the bombing. The owner said Dzhokhar appeared nervous.
The family of 8-year-old Martin Richard, who died in the blasts, thanked law enforcement officers for their work on the investigation. “None of this will bring our beloved Martin back, or reverse the injuries these men inflicted on our family and nearly two hundred others,” the Dorchester family said in a statement. “We continue to pray for healing and for comfort on the long road that lies ahead for every victim and their loved ones.”
William Campbell III, whose 29-year-old sister, Krystle M. Campbell, was killed when the bombs went off on Boylston Street Monday, said after Tsarnaev was captured: “I’m happy that nobody else is going to get hurt by these guys, but it’s not going to bring her back.”
As for the rest of the family, including Krystle’s father, William Campbell Jr., and mother, Patricia Campbell, “they’re happy they got the guys, but basically they feel the same,” he said. “You can only get so angry, and you then know she’s not going to be here anymore.”
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